Review: H&R Block's TaxCut

Posted By: Dr. Frugal in Taxes on 08/23/2007 at 09:43:25

TaxCut is a product of tax preparation giant H&R Block, which gives it a certain amount of creditability and name recognition. They also feature commercials saying "I've got people" that promote their mini-classes where you can learn basic through intermediate tax preparation. It's a great marketing tool as the course requires their product when the students go on to use their product.

There are significant differences between TaxCut's online and desktop versions. Unlike other products, where the differences are superficial, TaxCut offers a distinctly different product, at the high end, online than it offers in their desktop version. This difference is distinctive enough to make the onilne product superior in most ways to the desktop version, something that is not the case with TurboTax and TaxACT. Their online offerings are: EZ Online, Premium, and Signature. The corresponding desktop versions are Standard, Deluxe, and Premium.

EZ Online / Standard

The online and desktop versions of their basic package match up closely in capabilities, although the online version offers free e-filing where the desktop does not. Both will work for returns without complicated deductions. They are aimed at the 1040EZ filer. Both offer an interview format, error checking, audit support, and an accurate calculation guarantee.

Premium / Deluxe

The Premium online package from TaxCut has a unique feature not found on the desktop versions: a session with one of the H&R Block's tax experts. You can call or email a tax question and get one free answer included in the Premium online package. The online version offers many different types of assistance and support as you fill out your return, including a video library and a virtual assistant. You can e-file your return for free when ready.

The desktop Deluxe versions includes many of those same supporting features and assistants. It gives you one state return for free. However, you do not get the free question with the tax professional. You can get free e-filing with a mail-in rebate. You also gain access to a number of financial and tax planning articles.

Signature / Premium

The Signature version of TaxCut is the most expensive and offers the greatest level of assurance that your return is correct. This package contains all the benefits of the premium online version, but it is reviewed and signed by an H&R Block tax professional before it's filed with the IRS. If you are audited, an H&R Block representative will help you answer any questions about your return. With this package, you also get unlimited sessions with H&R Block tax specialists to answer your questions.

The desktop Premium version contains all the features of the desktop Deluxe version and expands to include investments, real estate, and tax-planning functions. You get assistance on refinancing mortgages, help with small business filing Schedule C, and industry-specific tax tips.

H&R Block has put effort into distinguishing its online and desktop versions. It appears they want to drive business to the online version, although the free state offer and other benefits with the top two desktop versions make those offerings with considering.

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